Rolling Stone Australia


Trump to Turnbull: "You Are Worse Than I Am"


Trump to Turnbull: "You Are Worse Than I Am"

A White House transcript of the January 28th phone conversation between Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and U.S. President Donald Trump has been leaked to the Washington Post.

The initially described "worst call by far" saw the two leaders clashing over the immigration deal made by the Obama administration, which would see 2,000 refugees, currently housed at Manus Island and Nauru detention centres by Australia, resettled in the U.S. On the deal, Trump said "here I am calling for a ban where I am not letting anybody in and we take 2,000 people. Really, it looks like 2,000 people that Australia does not want, and I do not blame you, by the way, but the United States has become like a dumping ground."

Turnbull then went on to explain Australia's immigration policy, saying the reason the people were detained "is not because they are bad people. It is because in order to stop people smugglers, we had to deprive them of the product", before adding an example where "even if you are a Noble [sic] Prize-winning genius, we will not let you in."

At which point Trump interjected, saying "That is a good idea. We should do that too. You are worse than I am."

Earlier in the exchange Turnbull also suggested that the U.S. don't actually have to resettle any of the refugees, noting that "the obligation is to only go through the process", and explaining that "the obligation is for the United States to look and examine and take up to and only if they so choose – 1,250 to 2,000. Every individual is subject to your vetting. You can decide to take them or to not take them after vetting."

It's a point Turnbull repeatedly stresses during the call. He also frequently attempts to explain the crux of the deal to Trump, who seemingly doesn't understand the details. Instead the U.S. President is fixated on his own public image, complaining that "[he] will be seen as a weak and ineffective leader in [his] first week" and telling Turnbull his reluctance to honour the Obama deal is based primarily on a fear of further terrorist attacks: "I do not want to have more San Bernardino's or World Trade Centers."

Following which, the two spar on the nationality of the Boston bombers ("they were Russians", Turnbull explains) and the reasoning behind Australia's immigration policy ("why do you discriminate against boats?", Trump asks), before Trump labels the conversation "the most unpleasant call all day" (comparing it directly to his conversation with the Russian President: "Putin was a pleasant call") shortly before hanging up.

Read the complete transcript of the phone conversation at the Washington Post.


Topics: Malcolm Turnbull   Donald Trump


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